Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

M$ Battles Halo 2 Holes

Filed under
Microsoft
Security
Gaming

Microsoft is once again locked in a battle of wills with hackers determined to find and exploit security holes in the company's software. But this time the buggy code isn't endangering users' PCs -- just their otherworldly alien fortresses.

The vulnerabilities are in Microsoft's enormously popular Xbox game Halo 2. Last month, the company's Bungie Studios games division pushed out a 2-MB software patch for the sci-fi shooter in response to months of complaints from Xbox Live gamers about "glitchers" who'd learned to exploit programming errors in the game to their advantage in competitive play. The phenomenon launched cheaters to high positions in the Halo 2 global leader board, where players are ranked like chess masters according to their online wins and losses.

The most severe of the holes was a meta-bug triggered when black hats interfered with their cable modem links, buying them up to eight seconds of invisible movement while the game server struggled to reconnect -- just the ticket to sneak into the enemy's fort and steal their colors in a hotly contested capture-the-flag game. Other glitches were errors in the game's physics engine that gave practiced players Neo-like mastery of the Halo 2 multiverse: the power to fly through the air, grab objects through solid walls or create a tactically useful double of their avatar.

"You have a huge number of people intentionally trying to find stuff to essentially break, or mess around with, the game," said Halo expert Jeremy Hunt. "Trying to make a game work with that kind of crowd is pretty tough."

The bugs have been a chink in the armor of the otherwise bulletproof Halo franchise. The original Halo was the flagship title for the Xbox, and Halo 2, released last November, sold 6.4 million copies in its first three months on the market. The game's vigorous online component helped boost Xbox Live's user base to 1.4 million players in January. A Halo movie is now reportedly in the works, and rumors abound that a next-generation Halo update is planned as a launch title for the upcoming Xbox 360 console.

Microsoft responded to the glitches quickly and characteristically: In mid-January, the company launched a ruthless wave of anti-hacking enforcement that's seen, by Microsoft's count, thousands of players banned from online play for allegedly exploiting the vulnerabilities. Some gamers are complaining in message forums that they were targeted unjustly, but they have no recourse under Xbox Live's terms-of-service agreement, which lets the company exile anyone for any reason.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

KDE: Krita 3.2.0 Beta 2, Akademy 2017

  • Krita 3.2.0: Second Beta Available
    We’re releasing the second beta for Krita 3.2.0 today! These beta builds contain the following fixes, compared to the first 3.2.0 beta release. Keep in mind that this is a beta: you’re supposed to help the development team out by testing it, and reporting issues on bugs.kde.org.
  •  
  • KDE Arrives in Almería for Akademy 2017
    We have travelled from across the globe to meet for our annual gathering where we plan and discuss the next year's activities creating free software to share with the world. Almería is in the south east of Spain, a country which has long been a supporter of free software and collaboration with its creators. The sun here is hot but the water is also warm for those who make it to the beach to discuss their work with a pina colada and a swim. Over the last year KDE has run conferences in Brazil, India, Spain, Germany and sprints in Randa in Switzerland, Krita in the Netherlands, Marble in Germany, GSoC in the US, WikiToLearn in India, Plasma in Germany, Kontact in France, and sent representatives to OSCAL in Albania, FOSSASIA in Singapore, FUDCON in Cambodia, HKOSCon in Hong Kong and more.
  • Guest Post: Retired From KDE, by Paul Adams
    Long time no see, huh? Yes, I neglected my blog and as such didn't post anything since Akademy 2014... Interestingly this is the last one where my dear Paul Adams held a famous talk.  [...] During my PhD I was studying Free Software community productivity metrics. I was also working on research into software quality funded by the European Commission. KDE eV (the governance body1 for KDE) was also taking part in that project. At this time KDE was almost ready to release KDE 4. It was an exciting time to get involved.

Software and howtos

Ubuntu: Desktop Software Users' Feedback, Ubuntu Server Development

Games: Day of Infamy, Gravitation, and Patches From Samuel Pitoiset for Valve